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Greater Manchester cohort shares aspirations for Research Scholars Programme

Greater Manchester researchers are among Cohort 4 of the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Research Scholars Programme which launched in the North West in 2022. 

Delivered as collaboration between CRN Greater Manchester and CRN North West Coast, the initiative is an interactive, developmental programme

It is one of numerous workforce training and development programmes run by the CRN and has been designed to equip candidates with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to become the Principal and Chief investigators of the future. 


Dr Karolina Stepien

Dr Karolina Stepien, a Consultant in Adult Metabolic Medicine at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, is excited by how the programme can develop her research activity.   

Dr Stepien said: "I am delighted I was offered a place on the programme. It will enable me to attend meetings, collaborate, support current active portfolio projects and will give me more capacity to take on new research. It will benefit my personal research reputation and thereby that of the department and the specialty as a whole by allowing me to attract more research opportunities.

"Additionally, and importantly, it will provide me with enhanced networking possibilities with research leaders and better insight into current developments. These collaborations will improve my skills and knowledge and drive new research."

Matt Kenyon

Matt Kenyon, a physiotherapist at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, is another Greater Manchester member of the cohort who is delighted to be on the programme and has a clear vision of how the opportunity can support his research ambitions.  

He said: “I am a musculoskeletal (MSK) extensive scope physiotherapist working in one of the most deprived areas in England – Blackburn, Lancashire. I have always strived to develop our service provision through research to help those patients who don’t usually get a voice. My ambition is to become a clinical academic leader within my local area so I can make the biggest difference to the patients I see and also encourage other Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) to do the same. 

“My field of expertise is in lower limb MSK problems, specifically tendon pain. This is the most prevalent lower limb MSK condition, it is very costly to manage for the NHS and one-in-four people still have symptoms 10 years after onset. Most NICE guidance is based on research looking at athletic, affluent, male participants which does not represent the population where I work. 

“My plan is to find a voice for these underserved populations suffering with tendon pain so that I can go on to contribute to the creation and implementation of meaningful interventions.  I see the Research Scholars Programme as the first step in gaining the skills, networks and mentorship needed to progress through the Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) pathway towards being a clinical academic.  

“I have just started a post grad qualitative research methods course at University College London (UCL) which I am doing in my protected time. I am also leading on a large service evaluation of 989 Achilles tendinopathy patients to better understand the characteristics of Achilles patients. I hope to get this published in my time on the Research Scholars Programme.” 

Dr Hiren Divecha 

Dr Hiren Divecha, a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, specialises in hip and knee revision arthroplasty, young adult hip surgery and metastatic bone disease.

Speaking about his inclusion on the programme, he said: "I am thrilled to have been appointed to Cohort 4 in the North West. I am confident that this programme will help me continue my development as an academic surgeon and, most importantly, allow me to promote orthopaedic research activity throughout my trust and the North West region.

"Ultimately, I hope to be a clinical academic leader in the North West, helping to support the development of future aspiring clinical academics and guiding the research landscape in orthopaedics to ultimately benefit the patients we treat and the healthcare systems that provide this life-changing care."